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Dark Diwali for 5 lakh families

Dark Diwali for 5 lakh families
Highlights

It may not be a cracker of a Diwali this year for about 500,000 families in Tamil Nadu\'s Sivakasi town - India\'s biggest firecrackers manufacturing hub - as they fear getting swamped by Chinese firecrackers.

Illegal imports of Chinese firecrackers

Chennai: It may not be a cracker of a Diwali this year for about 500,000 families in Tamil Nadu's Sivakasi town - India's biggest firecrackers manufacturing hub - as they fear getting swamped by Chinese firecrackers.

"Two years back the illegal imports of Chinese firecrackers were sporadic. But this year it was phenomenal, threatening the domestic industry's very existence," G. Abiruben, president of the Tamil Nadu Fireworks and Amorces Manufacturers Association (TNFAMA), Sivakasi, told IANS over phone.

"Nearly 35 percent of the products made for this year's Diwali remain unsold because of clandestine imports of several container loads of Chinese products," he said. Chinese firecrackers pose a threat to the Rs.6,000 crore Indian firecracker industry which is gearing up for Diwali Oct 23. Conservatively, industry experts estimate that the value of clandestine imports of Chinese firecrackers is around Rs.600 crore for about 2,000 containers.

The central government has said that advertisements would be issued in the dailies warning of action against illegal imports of firecrackers, but no such publicity has been given till date though the time is running out, industry officials complain.

K. Mariappan, member of senior advisory committee, TNFAMA, told IANS: "Earlier the central government used to seize container loads of Chinese firecrackers. Instead of destroying the seized products they were given back to the illegal importers after levying a fine. Those products later found their way into the market."

He said the chief controller of explosives based in Nagpur has to give the sanction to destroy the seized fireworks and no such sanction has been given till date. Sivakasi, also known as 'kutti' or 'mini Japan', is one of the oldest and biggest firecracker manufacturing hubs in India. Nearly 90 percent of the country's fireworks are made in Sivakasi. Also, 80 percent of the safety matches are made here.

Low rainfall and dry climate are conducive for this industry to thrive. Some of the products are also used by the airports to scare away birds.

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